James Harden gearing up for Nets return before NBA playoffs

Steve Nash seemed round as if looking out for a chunk of wooden to knock or a salt shaker to throw over his shoulder as he reacted to a query that phrased James Harden’s return to the Nets as inevitable.

Really, who can blame him? With all of the accidents and different obstacles forcing the 35 completely different starting-lineup combos used this 12 months, Nash isn’t about to depend his horses as one other sport comes off the schedule.

“He is putting in his consecutive high-intensity work modes, he has responded and so it’s all positive,” Nash mentioned after watching Harden scrimmage throughout a uncommon follow Monday in Chicago. “We can’t commit to anything right now because we’re not committed to anything … but definitely possible that he plays one or more of these next four games.”

Make that three video games.

The last week of the common season provides the Nets two units of back-to-back video games: Harden is not going to play Tuesday in opposition to the Bulls, leaving dwelling video games Wednesday (Spurs), Saturday (Bulls) and Sunday (Cavaliers). Depending on how Nash juggles lineups within the last three video games, Harden, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving may share the ground for simply the eighth sport all season. The Big 3 plus Blake Griffin may make its debut.

James Harden
James Harden talks with Joe Harris through the Nets’ sport in opposition to the Nuggets on Saturday.

“We still don’t know for sure, but I think we’re in the position we thought we’d be in where James would be ready either at the end of the regular season or to start the playoffs,” Nash mentioned. “But nothing is set in stone. We know what this season has been like.”

So a lot focus has been placed on the Nets’ lack of alternative to construct on-court chemistry and discover roles. But possibly that is a bonus in making them a troublesome group for a playoff opponent to scout.

“I don’t know if we would be a mystery team: I think a lot of people would be focusing on what we have,” ahead Jeff Green mentioned. “It could be exhausting for them to scout [us] as a result of they don’t understand how we’d play as a result of we haven’t had a full roster just about all season.

“But I’m pretty sure they’re going to be long nights of trying to figure out ways to stop those guys. We’ve got a lot of weapons, and it’s going to be tough to really hone down on certain things that they want to take away. But that’s the greatness of our team and what we bring.”

The finest instance of the dangerous timing that epitomized this season is Durant returned from a 23-game absence with a left hamstring pressure one sport after Harden went out with a proper hamstring pressure that has prompted him to overlook 18 straight video games. About a month in the past, it felt the celebrities simply weren’t going to align.

“We’ll be grateful if we can have a full complement of players available and start building and be prepared for the playoffs,” Nash mentioned. “Completely 100 percent, just the nature of this league, there was obviously in the back of your mind a thought of what if this doesn’t come together? And the fear of that event. But I think right now we feel pretty positive and optimistic that we’re close and we’re in a good place.”

The last choice on Harden’s return will likely be each subjective and goal: A mix of how he responds the day after pushing his limits and what number of days in a row he appears to be like like he’s headed in the precise path on the courtroom, plus data gathered from scans and the medical workers.

Harden mentioned final week that he deliberate “to play a couple games before the postseason.” The most reasonable method to accomplish that with out taking an pointless threat could be to play Wednesday and in both finish of the weekend back-to-back. No jinx.

“When you are getting easy baskets from his passing, it definitely makes things easier,” Green mentioned. “He’s very vocal out there on the floor on the defensive end as far as putting guys in the right spots and making sure they know the coverages. His voice is definitely something that we miss. His playmaking ability on the offensive end. We miss him, and hopefully we get him back soon.”

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